Over 21 million kids eat free or reduced-price breakfast or lunch at school. But what about dinner? And weekends and holidays when there is no school? Well, the answer is the newly-expanded At-Risk Afterschool Meals in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). At-Risk Afterschool Meals are now available in all States, and USDA needs your help to open more feeding sites. More places that serve meals means that more kids are getting the meals and nutrition they need.
In Baltimore, over 6,000 kids eat supper in afterschool programs every day. The Family League of Baltimore City has more than 100 afterschool meals sites. The Family League also feeds children during the summer when school is out, and it has served afterschool snacks and suppers to kids for two years.
“We fund afterschool programs for Baltimore City,” said Kaleisha Biggs, the nutrition program coordinator at the Family League. “We make sure all of the children in our afterschool program receive a meal. ”
The programs offer activities, including dance, arts and crafts, sports, cooking, nutrition education, tutoring, and much more. Biggs said that the key is offering fun activities to keep kids coming back. The meals are served at many different places, including schools, libraries, and recreation centers throughout the community. Offering meals in places children go to often and that are close to their homes also helps attendance.
If your organization wants to help, Biggs offers some advice. “This is a free program,” she said. If you get funding (reimbursement) for your meals through the program, you can use your organization’s money you would have spent on food for staffing or enrichment activities for the kids.”
For Biggs, feeding kids just makes sense. “We want every child to be able to get a nutritious meal,” she said. “It helps out the families—not every family is able to provide a meal for their kids.”
CACFP reimburses organizations for providing meals to children and adults in child care or adult care settings. The at-risk afterschool meals component of CACFP that the Family League participates in is now in all States. Community organizations can be reimbursed by USDA for meals and snacks to kids in low-income areas.
Learn more about the program from the new online brochure called At-Risk Afterschool MEALS in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). To listen to a webcast about the nationwide expansion of CACFP afterschool meals, click here.